Early September Retail U.S. Sales Pace Remains Robust

John Humphrey

After a strong close over the Labor Day weekend (Sept. 1-3), retail light-vehicle sales in September maintained a relatively healthy pace through the first half of the month. However, sales are expected to level off through the rest of September—but still will rise 12% from September 2011, based on a monthly forecast update from J.D. Power’s Power Information Network® (PIN) with strategic partner LMC Automotive.*

Through the first 14 selling days of the month, retail car and light-truck sales increased 15% from a year ago, reflecting a healthy market, although we expect retail sales to level off through the remainder of the month. Retail deliveries are projected to reach 952,200 unit sales, which translates to a seasonally adjusted annul rate (SAAR) of 11.8 million units, which is up by more than 1 million units from September 2011, but lower than August’s 12.6 million-unit retail sales pace.

Total (retail and fleet) sales in September are forecast to increase 11% from a year ago, on a selling-day adjusted basis.**  Volume may reach 1.153 million units. Fleet deliveries will be up slightly from last September, and will account for 17% of total light-vehicle sales. The sales pace in September is projected to match August’s pace—14.5 million units, but would be significantly stronger than the 13.1 million-unit SAAR in September 2011.

At the segment level, small and midsize cars—the sub-compact conventional, compact conventional and midsize conventional segments—are anticipated to achieve gains of at least 25% from September 2011. However, large pickups and midsize utilities may not post growth this month vs. the same month a year ago.

In a calendar-year sales update, LMC Automotive has revised the retail sales forecast upward to 11.6 million units from 11.4 million units, based on healthier retail sales during the past two months. Since there appears to be more uncertainty ahead about volume growth, the forecast for 2013 will remain at 12.3 million units for retail sales and 15 million units for total deliveries. LMC’s Jeff Schuster, senior vice president of forecasting, warns that “consumers in the next few months will continue to process the economic news, more details on the European debt crisis and the upcoming presidential election, which may create a more volatile environment.”John Humphrey, senior vice president of global automotive at J.D. Power and Associates

*J.D. Power and Associates and LMC Automotive have a strategic alliance to share data and produce sales forecasts based on J.D. Power’s real-time transaction data collected by PIN, with analysis and intelligence from LMC Automotive.

**There are 25 selling days in September 2012 and there were 25 in September 2011.

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